KINGMAN - Friends, family, survivors and local officials gathered Monday morning to break ground on a new memorial in Firefighter Memorial Park, which will honor those killed in the Doxol propane tank explosion nearly 40 years ago.
"It took a lot of planning over the last few months to bring this about," Kingman Fire Chief Chuck Osterman told the crowd of about 50 people who attended the groundbreaking. "This will finally give us a place to recognize that sacrifice."
"This memorial will recognize the significant commitment these people make to taking care of their community," said Kingman Mayor John Salem, referring to firefighters and police officers in general.
On July 5, 1973, a railroad tanker car full of propane caught fire while a crew was trying to transfer the gas. Within 20 minutes of the Kingman Fire Department getting the call of a fire, the tank exploded, killing three people outright. A total of 11 firefighters and one civilian would die from injuries sustained from the explosion and more than 100 people would be treated for burns.
The memorial to the explosion has been on the minds of firefighters and officials for some time, Osterman said. There is a lot of emotion attached to the incident and for some the memories were too painful.
The memorial will include a piece of metal from the salvaged railroad tank, along with the names of those killed in the explosion and a plaque of the Firefighter's Prayer. It will measure approximately 36 feet across, with the Kingman Fire Department logo in the center.
Osterman hopes to have the memorial finished by mid-summer.
The project is being coordinated by CORE Construction, a Phoenix firm that is currently working on the renovation and construction of the new buildings for the Kingman Unified School District.
Materials, construction costs and labor for the $190,000 memorial will be covered by CORE and another 15 subcontractors. The fire department is also asking for the public's help in covering the cost through the purchase of memorial bricks.
Residents can purchase a 4x8 brick with up to three lines of text for $125 and an 8x8 brick with up to six lines of text for $250. The bricks will be use to create a walk that will wrap around the outside edge of the memorial's center.
Applications for memorial bricks can be picked up at the Kingman Fire Department office, 412 E. Oak St. or by calling (928) 753-2891.